Men’s Golf: Blue Raiders finish fourth at Bearcat Invitational

Photo by Brent Beerends / MT Athletics Communications

Photo by Brent Beerends / MT Athletic Communications 

The Middle Tennessee men’s golf squad finished in fourth place out of 12 teams on Tuesday with a score of 16-under par at the Bearcat Invitational at the Coldstream Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Aside from the Cinncinnati Bearcats and MTSU, the other teams included the Kentucky Wildcats, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Illinois Fighting Illini, Ohio State Buckeyes, Louisville Cardinals, Akron Zips, Michigan State Spartans, Xavier Musketeers and Charleston Cougars.

Head coach Brennan Webb’s six-man squad was one of just four schools that weren’t from a power five conference in the Invitational.

Middle Tennessee found themselves battling on the team leaderboard with the fifth-ranked Illinois Fighting Illini throughout the tournament. The Blue Raiders finished two stroked ahead of Illinois.

After finishing the 2016 Bearcat Invitational at 23-over par, the Blue Raiders cut an astounding 39 strokes off their final score in this year’s Invitational.

Junior Marcus Byrd led the Blue Raiders individually, finishing in a tie for third place on the individual leaderboard.

Day 1 recap

At the end of the first two rounds on Monday, the Blue Raiders found themselves in the middle of the pack in sixth place with an overall score of nine-under par.

Middle Tennessee rallied in round two to finish eight-under par as a team, after finishing at just one-under par in the first round.

The Blue Raiders were led on day one by Byrd, who fired a four-under par 67 in round one to keep the Raiders afloat. He birdied twice on the front nine and collected his second eagle of the season on the par-five fourth hole.

Byrd finished his second round with a three-under (68) to pace the Raiders individually with a two round total of seven-under.

Sophomore Chip Thomas found himself in a tie for 14th place after shooting three-under par Monday. Thomas tied with redshirt freshman Tyler Johnson for the most birdies on the day with seven.

Johnson found himself knotted up with teammate James Beckner in a tie for 34th at two-over par heading into the final round. After posting a four-over par (75) in round one, Johnson responded nicely by dropping six strokes off his opening round score to end round two with a 69.

Beckner shot a 73 in his opening round and rebounded to shoot at even par to end the day.  Beckner, who is participating in his first tournament with the team after playing as an individual to open the season, started the day strong by getting an eagle on the par five, fourth hole.

Illari Saulo got off to a good start as well, shooting a two-round score of one-over par to place him 29th. After double-bogeying on 18 to end his first round, Saulo fought back to finish his final round of the day at even par.

After finishing at a dismal 12-over par in the first round, sophomore Tanner Owens followed suit with the rest of his teammates by turning his play around. Owens dropped an impressive 13 strokes between rounds one and two and finished his Monday by shooting a one-under par (70).

Day 2 recap

MTSU finished the Bearcat Invitational on a high note by shooting sevem-under par in round three.

Saulo shot two-over in his final round. After a triple bogey on the third hole, Saulo birdied five, six and eight to erase the mistake he made on the third. Saulo tied for 42nd place overall.

Owens had a strong round three, shooting an even par (71) to finish the tournament in 61st place at 12-over.

Beckner finally shot under par in his final round after hovering right around it in his first two rounds, ending the Invitational with a one-under (70) in round three. He finished the week at one-over par, putting him in a tie for 26th place.

Johnson was the third Blue Raider to walk off the course, duplicating Owens’ even par performance for the final round.  Johnson’s 13 birdies led Middle Tennessee and he ended up in a tie for 32nd on the individual leaderboard.

Thomas and Byrd paced the Raiders in the final round, with the duo both finishing with scores of three-under par.

Byrd’s ten-under par score for the tournament was the best for MTSU.

Thomas continued his strong play by finishing the tournament in a tie for ninth place at six-under par.

Box Score

What’s Next?

MTSU will return home to host the Franklin American Mortgage Intercollegiate tournament at The Grove Club in College Grove, TN.  The tournament will be played from October 8-10.

Follow MTSU sports reporter Anthony Fiorella on Twitter at @A_Fiorella74 for more coverage.

To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis, email

For more sports stories, follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter and Periscope at @Sidelines_Sport.

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